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It's Not Just About Whisky: Scotland's Emerging Gin Scene

It's Not Just About Whisky: Scotland's Emerging Gin Scene

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Forget the land of lochs and whisky, Scotland’s spirit makers are determined to prove they’re just as good at producing great gin too. Innovative new spirits are emerging from the countries gin distilleries that promise to raise Scottish gin from second-fiddle obscurity to serious contender for the best of the Scottish offerings

There is a juniper revolution going on in Scotland; a new generation of spirit lovers and trendy mixologists are descending on innovative gin varieties coming from both Scotland’s oldest and newest distilleries.

Though the county is more well-known for its whiskies, it also happens to be the world’s largest exporter of gin, namely Tanqueray and Gordon’s, and its gin-producing tradition goes back to the 18th century. Today, craft distilleries in Scotland are going through a gin revolution, infusing new gin products with everything from botanicals to exotic fruits.

If you’re a particularly observant gin connoisseur, you’ll have noticed that craft gin makers led by Hendricks, which was launched by William Grant & Sons 10 years ago, is blazing a trail with Scottish gin, putting it on the menus across the U.K. and America. In 2003, the Wall Street Journal heralded Hendricks as the best gin in the world and the distiller has been honored at several international spirit competitions. The Beverage Testing Institute gave the gin well-above-average scores of 93, 94 and 95 between 2007 and 2011.

Scottish gin’s penchant for innovation looks set to continue with new distilleries opening regularly. One highly anticipated offering, Pickering’s Gin, which is based in the heart of Edinburgh, is said to be the first distillery to open its doors in the capital in more than 150 years. It will distill, bottle, and label small batches of premium spirits to be sold exclusively within the city at first. Flavorings will include juniper, coriander, cardamom, and fennel, and Pickering’s is based on a recipe kept secret for more than six decades.

With the combination of its solid spirit-producing history and the addition of exciting new distillers focused on developing new artisanal methods for the spirit, it is clear there’ll be a lot more to see from Scottish gin in coming years.

Serusha Govender is The Daily Meal's Travel Editor. Follow her on Twitter @SerushaGovender

11 Things You Should Know About Tanqueray Gin

Not only is Tanqueray almost 200 years into the gin game, the company actually helped drive the evolution of the category itself. It was part of the mission to transform gin from “Christmas tree fire water” to something actually respectable. From its role as early innovator in gin production to being one of the only things that could— and God forgive them — make Idris Elba look mildly unattractive, here are 11 things you need to know about Tanqueray.

Its founder defied God. Sort of.

Charles Tanqueray was born in 1810 to a long line of English clergymen — father, grandfather, even great uncle. Naturally, when it came time to pick a career, Tanqueray the younger went with booze, founding a distillery with his brother in London in 1830.

It was a choice between gin and horse feet.

According to former Tanqueray master distiller Tom Nichol, Charles Tanqueray “was a genius.” More accurately, “I think he was a genius who told everyone he was a genius,” Nichol says. We don’t know if Tanqueray was both annoying and super smart, but we do know he dressed like Santa Claus on a Tinder date and carried around a notebook filled with ideas. Among the more prominent: recipes for animal medicines and a supposedly “improved” horseshoe polish, since there’s nothing worse than bad horseshoe polish. We’re glad he went with gin.

Tanqueray’s tinkering led to modern craft gin.

When gin, and not equine toiletries, won out in Tanqueray’s heart, he dedicated himself wholly to improving what passed for gin at the time, taking on industry leaders Felix Booth and Alexander Gordon (he’d go on to partner with the latter). While developing what would become his flagship recipe, Tanqueray stumbled upon his preferred method for distilling botanicals into a small quantity of neutral grain spirit before distilling the larger batch for the final time. It was one of the first innovations in botanical infusion, central to the whole “how-is-this-delicious-gin-not-vodka?” question.

Tanqueray: a ‘simple’ recipe.

Gin production is relatively easy: There’s no malted barley that has to be blessed by a Celtic priest or banjo-serenaded bourbon barrels required. There’s only juniper. Many recipes go well beyond with unexpected ingredients — Scottish rowan berries, lavender, love — but for 180-plus years, Tanqueray stuck by the seemingly simple combination of only four botanicals: Tuscan juniper, coriander, angelica root, and licorice. But don’t let numbers fool you. With just those four botanicals, Tanqueray presents a blooming gin bouquet.

It’s (almost) Smirnoff.

They’re different beasts in the bottle, sure, but before botanicals come into play, vodka and gin can be (and often are) close to the same stuff. In the case of Tanqueray gin and Smirnoff vodka, they’re exactly the same stuff: Smirnoff and the base neutral spirit for Tanqueray are distilled at a facility called Cameron Bridge in Scotland before going off to become their respective final products, which proves — if nothing else — the surprising economic advantage of adding juniper to stuff before selling it.

It’s made with a 200-year-old still.

The still is nicknamed “Old Tom,” though it’s not to be confused with Tanqueray’s limited-release Old Tom gin, a slightly sweeter style that’s halfway between genever and London dry . This is a sturdy beast of a thing that somehow survived a London World War II air raid in 1941 and, after some repairs, became a kind of spiritual mascot for Tanqueray’s brand endurance.

Tanqueray 10 (obviously) has eight botanicals.

Tanqueray and Tanqueray 10 are the two Tanqueray products you’re most likely to see or have seen, drink or have drunk (or are drinking right now, nice). They both ring in at a solid 47.3 percent ABV, but Tanqueray has that aforementioned juniper assertiveness, whereas Tanqueray 10 was produced as a kind of concession to and/or celebration of the emerging craft gin market — a market reaching out to more consumers, including those less in love with gin’s signature juniper note. The result is a mix of eight botanicals (not 10, because why not?) that is less juniper-forward and overlaid with not just earthy spice but brighter, fragrant citrus notes.

From Presidents to Rat Packs, America loves Tanqueray.

According to Diageo archivist Joanne McKerchar, Tanqueray was the first drink poured in the White House after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. (Only fair, since Tanqueray also supposedly donated $1,000 to an “anti-dry” movement during Prohibition.) Then, in the 1960s, the Rat Pack realized they loved the stuff, too, famously putting down more than a few Tanqueray Martinis in the Buena Vista Social Club. Says McKerchar, “Sales of Tanqueray doubled in a year without a penny of advertising money being spent on the brand.”

Speaking of the Rat Pack, it was Frank versus the Tanq.

The Rat Pack had a controversial relationship with alcohol, and it turns out Frank Sinatra had his own love-hate relationship with gin. In the online forum, which looks like a (possibly authentic) family-run website dedicated to keeping “the legacy of Frank Sinatra safe and free,” one user asks, “Did Frank really drink gin? [S]omehow that surprises me.” Administrator Nancy — if we believe the site, Nancy Sinatra herself — replies simply and sadly: “Dad loved Tanqueray gin but it didn’t love him.”

The bottle is not a tiny fire hydrant.

Sure, we see a reasonable visual resemblance, but the Tanqueray bottle wasn’t based on a fire hydrant. The bottle was actually, and carefully, modeled after a cocktail shaker, a marketing attempt at aligning the strangely assertive flavors of English gin with the more approachable, mutable flavors of the American cocktail scene. When Tanqueray 10 launched in 2000, the company used a similar shape but added a not uncool retro citrus reamer vibe to play up the aforementioned citrus.

It’s the only thing that could make Idris Elba look awkward.

And let’s be clear: just barely. Considering the near-theoretical impossibility of catching someone who looks like this at a bad angle, it’s actually almost (almost) admirable that a Tanqueray print ad seems to capture Elba in an expression this unflattering.

About Kinrara Distillery

Kinrara’s highland distillery is nestled in 12,000 acres of Cairngorm National Park, just outside Aviemore.

One of Scotland’s newest micro distilleries, we make unique highland dry gins infused with local flora and berries. As we grow, we also aim to craft single malt whisky.

The centuries old Cairngorm estate was founded by Lady Jane Gordon, beautiful socialite and co-creator of the famous Gordon Highlanders. Known as the ‘Empress of fashion’, she was born during Britain’s notorious gin craze, and later held lavish parties and soirée evenings where up and coming artists were invited to perform. It was in her drawing room that Rabbie Burns first read his poetry to Edinburgh society.

The estate offers a stunning range of flora and berries that we forage for our gins and mix with carefully sourced botanicals. This allows us to create our unique range of premium highland gins.

Kinrara distillery prides itself on creating a handcrafted small batch spirit. From the distillation of the gin right down to the bottling, everything is lovingly done by hand, by our passionate highland team.

Hand-crafted Highland Spirits

Kinrara’s highland distillery is nestled in 12,000 acres of Cairngorm National Park, just outside Aviemore.

One of Scotland’s newest micro distilleries, we make unique highland dry gins infused with local flora and berries.

The centuries old Cairngorm estate was founded by Lady Jane Gordon, beautiful socialite and co-creator of the famous Gordon Highlanders. Known as the ‘Empress of fashion’, she was born during Britain’s notorious gin craze, and later held lavish parties and soirée evenings where up and coming artists were invited to perform. It was in her drawing room that Rabbie Burns first read his poetry to Edinburgh society.

The estate offers a stunning range of flora and berries that we forage for our gins and mix with carefully sourced botanicals. This allows us to create our unique range of premium highland gins.

Kinrara distillery prides itself on creating a handcrafted small batch spirit. From the distillation of the gin right down to the bottling, everything is lovingly done by hand, by our passionate highland team.

When in Scotland, there’s more to drink than just whisky

All too often, Edinburgh has labored under the traditional notion of being solely a whisky and ale-loving capital, with the golden liquid being chugged in pubs and hidden whisky joints that dot the city. But nothing could be further from the truth as a recent sojourn opened my eyes (and palate) to how this adventurous Scottish city has been shaking more than just Old Fashioneds in the past few years. The drinking scene has livened up, and it goes beyond the eponymous Scotch (although that still remains personal favorite)!

A &ldquogin-volution&rdquo at Pickering&rsquos Gin

When your first steps into Pickering&rsquos Gin&rsquos working distillery lead you through a bar named The Royal Dick, you already have an inkling that this will not be your run-of-the-mill distillery tour.

Head of Experiences Victoria Izatt-Lowry allows visitors to immerse themselves in the working distillery as she takes small groups to the rooms where they distill, fill, label, wax, and bottle Pickering&rsquos Gin.

For founders Marcus Pickering and Matt Gammell, it was fortuitous timing when the old Royal (Dick) Veterinary School kennels became vacant and Pickering inherited a gin recipe from his late father. Dated July 17, 1947, this original Bombay recipe produces a gin full of fragrant spices and fresh citrus fruits. With the duo&rsquos penchant for good gin thrown in, it was a natural evolution for them to start Pickering&rsquos Gin in 2013.

The gin&rsquos balance results from specially crafted 500-liter copper stills which coax out subtle flavors during a slow luxurious simmer. The gin is engineered from 9 botanicals including juniper, coriander, cardamom, angelica, fennel, anise, lemon, lime, and cloves as seen in its core expressions line of Pickering&rsquos Gin, Original 1947 Gin, and Navy Strength Gin.

Pickering&rsquos Gin is located in the sprawling arts complex of Summerhall, where visitors can soak in some contemporary artwork at the bar before heading off to their next sipping destination.

After the tour, visitors get a chance to drink straight from the tap at The Royal Dick.

Afternoon tea at Signet Library

Not all afternoon teas are created equal and this is especially true for the Signet Library afternoon tea at The Colonnades. The 500-year-old Georgian building is home to the Society of Writers to Her Majesty&rsquos Signet, a venerable association of Scottish lawyers.

The Signet Library is marked by Corinthian columns and ornate balustrades, with paintings by Thomas Stothard.

Among the historical tomes that line the library&rsquos bookshelves, visitors can partake of a traditional British afternoon tea, complete with savory and sweet selections that reflect fresh, locally sourced produce in line with the seasons. These are artfully arranged on cake tiers and accompanied by unlimited refills of fine blended tea by Wee Tea, or for those who prefer, Champagne, fizz, or cocktails.

A tier of savories: salmon, smoked haddock, and saffron pie Moroccan spiced lamb with couscous and tzatziki olive, rosemary, and goats curd sablé ham hock terrine and piccalilli, mushroom and tarragon choux prawn Caesar salad Scottish salami, pesto, and fennel baguette egg mayonnaise, tomato chutney, and watercress.

The afternoon tea is available from 11 am to 5 pm from Sunday to Friday and reservations are recommended, although a few tables are left free for walk-ins. Away from the hustle and bustle of The Royal Mile, this is a welcome respite that takes you back to the grandeur of the 19th century for one afternoon.

Sweets include passionfruit and coconut shot, rhubarb and custard macaron, green tea and lemon tart, carrot cake, banoffee delice, dark chocolate &ldquoAlaska,&rdquo freshly made fruit, and plain scones with clotted cream and jam.

A fitting whisky finale at Whiski Rooms

I could not leave Scotland without partaking of its most famous libation. So on our last night in Edinburgh, we were lucky to grab a table at Whiski Rooms, panoramically positioned at the top of The Mound (although another one is around the corner at The Royal Mile). If the restaurant is full, the bar offers some bar snacks to while away your hunger pangs, accompanied by guided whisky tastings before settling down for a range of seasonal dishes that gives a real taste of Scotland.

A Highland malts flight takes you on a tasting tour to the highlands with Blair Athol 12 years old, Chynelish 14 years old, Edadour 10 years old, and a Gland Garish Founders Reserve. Haggis spring rolls with plum sauce offer an Asian twist to this Scottish delicacy.

Don&rsquot miss out on this opportunity to sample the creations anchored on local produce which the restaurant champions. And the best part are the recommended whisky pairings which simply heighten the dining experience.

Tenderly braised Perthshire lamb shoulder with sautéed potatoes, glazed parsnip, carrots, shallots, thyme jus, and mint sauce, paired with a Bunnahabhain 12 years old.

If you have time, do try to avail of the whisky tastings which expand on the experience, allowing you to appreciate the different characteristics of malt whisky, accompanied by tasting notes. Slàinte mhòr!

3. The Botanist: Best gin under $50

While there’s no upper limit for the amount of botanicals used when distilling gin, The Botanist surges ahead with a whopping 22 different florals, fruits and herbs used in every bottle. The Botanist is distilled on Islay, Scotland, and all of the botanicals included in the spirit are hand-foraged on the island.

The Botanist’s Islay Dry Gin is a premium spirit with a bottle to match. It’s mild and herby with a floral flavour profile stemming from the variety of botanicals used.

It’s also the only Islay Dry Gin in existence, featuring apple mint, chamomile, creeping thistle, elder and heather amongst many other botanicals. The brand keeps its wild spirit at the very core of everything it does. It encourages its drinkers to use their own foraging skills to create unique cocktails with their gin. Looking for an excuse to branch out and add some creativity to your gin drinking? The Botanist should be top of the list.

My Favourite Gin Distillery in Scotland: Dunnet Bay Distillers

Laura explains how to taste gin and what aromas to look for

Some of the botanicals used in the making of Rock Rose Rhodiola rosea, the inspiration for Rock Rose

By far the most gintertaining (oops, I did it again) stop visit on my itinerary, Dunnet Bay Distillers is an experience in its own right.

Getting there is remarkable enough to begin with the wee distillery is set in the distance of the beachy coast of mainland Scotland’s most northerly county, Caithness, famous for its relentless winds and its barren landscapes.

As opposed to blatantly commercial distilleries, the lovely pair formed by Martin and Claire Murray is driven by the authenticity of a common goal: crafting a proudly Scottish gin rooted in local traditions.

As a result, their hands-on operation – modest in size but not in ambition – yields one of the most delicate gins I’ve ever came across, Rock Rose Gin. For the record, I’m not one to fan over just any kind of gin as an immensely proud collector of 15+ bottles at home, this girl has developed a rather discerning palate over the years. I recognise an excellent gin when I taste one so much so that I left with two bottles!

The copper pot still, Elizabeth

Rock Rose Gin is derived from the latin Rhodiola rosea, a Nordic plant colloquially known as rose root, endemic to Caithness’ breezy climate and only second to juniper berries in Martin’s recipe. Rumour has it that over a thousand years ago, Vikings would harvest Rhodiola rosea on Northern Scotland’s coast as they believed it generated the vigour they desperately needed to pursue their lengthy, laborious voyages.

Astutely detecting my keen interest in all things gin, Martin showed me around his lush garden, proudly pointing at imported shrubs, rubbing and smelling perfumed herbs, and openly conversing about the challenges of exporting to Canada – all while keeping a watchful eye on the ongoing distilling, which needed to be checked every half hour or so. The brief yet informative small-group tour – the entire production relies on just one rather aptly named copper pot still, Elizabeth – is actually led by Laura and her deadpan sense of humour, which becomes downright hilarious once the much-awaited tasting begins.

Or perhaps it was the gin talking, after two generous servings of G&T?

The tasting part of the tour accentuates the subtlety of craft gin, helping novice and experts alike to identify flavours uniquely present in each bottle.

A production so small, they were actually labeling the bottles as I looked around the shop! Mhor 84, Lochearnhead

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“Glenmorangie’s distillery has stood on the banks of the Dornoch Firth for over 170 years – and we want to ensure that the firth’s pristine habitat will be preserved and enhanced over the next 170 years.”

Native oysters flourished in the waters of the Dornoch Firth up to 10,000 years ago, before being decimated in the 19th century due to overfishing.

Last year, 300 oysters from the UK’s only sizeable wild oyster population in Loch Ryan were placed on two sites in the firth as part of the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (see panel).

They were watched over by researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, partners in the project, to see if life in that stretch of water was viable for the molluscs. In October this year, they were joined by 20,000 more, with an aim of building an oyster population of four million within the same amount of years.

Glenmorangie also recently officially opened its £6 million anaerobic digestion plant, which is expected to purify up to 95 per cent of the waste water that its distillery at Tain releases into local waters, with the remaining 5 per cent of the organic waste naturally cleaned by the oysters.

Macallan placed the environment at the heart of its design for its pioneering new state-of-the-art distillery, which opened to the public earlier this year.

Built to “reflect and complement the natural beauty” of the area surrounding The Macallan Estate, the stunning building had a strong focus on sustainability, with a key design feature an undulating roof planted with a Scottish wildflower meadow.

Ian Curle, chief executive of Edrington, explained that sustainability remained a constant throughout all of the design and planning phases and that he believes that over 95 per cent of the energy they’ll be using will be from renewable sources.

He said: “As we are the first industry to have a sectoral environmental strategy that we’ve been working on collectively for about five or six years now, it became very important for us because what you see here at The Macallan Distillery is an investment for the future so it has to be future proofed, and the sustainability of the site is vital to that.”

The aforementioned Scotch Whisky Industry Environmental Strategy has played a huge part in the shaping of this industry in a rapid period of growth.

First launched in 2009, it is the only one of its kind covering an entire Scottish sector, a collective plan, it is designed to ensure that Scottish whisky companies work together to not only future proof their supply but also the environment in which these brands and producers are based.

Indeed, The Scotch Whisky Association announced that thanks to this initiative the sector was able to achieve its 2020 non-fossil fuel target four years ahead of schedule, with the industry now sourcing in excess of 20 per cent of its energy use from environmentally sustainable sources, up from just 3 per cent in 2008.

And it is not just the whisky industry, with gin fast becoming one of Scotland’s most popular spirits, not just to drink but also to produce, many smaller companies entering the market are also placing a key focus on the environment.

Arbikie Distillery, which has grown to become one of the Scottish gin industry’s big success stories, is a great example of the circular economy in action.

“Arbikie aims to be the most progressive distillery in the world. One of the key pillars of this is sustainability our field-to-bottle ethos means if we can’t grow it we don’t use it to make our range of vodkas, gins and Whisky,” explains Adam Hunter, Arbikie’s commercial manager. “At Arbikie we commercially grow the crops we need to make our field-to-bottle vodkas, gins and whiskies.

“This means that we can scale our production in a sustainable manner to meet demand rather than relying on wild foraged ingredients which if over cultivated can have a serious impact on the local ecosystem.”

Indeed master distiller Kirsty Black, who built the brand from the ground up, created her recipe for her award-winning gin around sustainable botanicals, choosing not only those that reflected the Angus environment around the distillery but also those that were populous enough to be sustainably sourced.

Indeed the distillery itself only came about as a means to use up the “wonky veg” – in this case potatoes – rejected by supermarket buyers.

Cushiedoos aims to be just the tonic for Scotland’s gin scene

It’s the iconic drinks pairing, with fans including Philip Larkin and JK Rowling, and thanks to nearly half the population lately drinking more of the juniper spirit than they did in 2018, it seems there’s been something of a renaissance for the humble gin and tonic.

Catering for those consumers seeking the finest drinks experience possible, Scottish producers have been quick to capitalise on the rise of premium gin to create some exciting and innovative mixers.

One such entrepreneur is Andrew Ligertwood, whose tonic water is made using indigenous Scottish botanicals and, perhaps most surprisingly, no quinine, the medication used to treat malaria.

He said: “I think quinine spoils the taste, and to be honest it was more important for me to use ingredients that could be sourced as locally as possible. This made quinine far from ideal, even though it’s used in most other tonic waters, as I didn’t want to go to another continent to source it, especially when we have such excellent, natural and healthy ingredients on our doorstep.”

Asked how people react to this fact, he replies, semi-jokingly, “you can’t get malaria from a midge”.

A former marketing manager for drinks giants Scottish & Newcastle and Highland Spring, Andrew said the idea for his fledgling product arose from the fact that while Scotland is on the world stage when it comes to so much of its national produce, there was a glaring absence of any premium tonic made with Scottish ingredients.

Better Drinks founder Andrew Ligertwood. Picture: Cushiedoos

He said: “Scotland has a reputation for excellence when it comes to our amazing natural larder. Provenance, sustainable sourcing and supporting local are very high up the value index when it comes to marketing and promotion and buyer motivation.

“It struck me, as I was enjoying a gin and tonic – the gin was made in Scotland but the tonic wasn’t – that there was a gap for a premium tonic water made using Scottish ingredients and the research then showed me that there was a demand for it.”

His decision to do something about it led to the formation in 2016 of Drink Better Ltd – as much a mission statement for the company as a title, said Andrew.

Inspired by the gentle melodic call of the Scottish wood pigeon, the drinks maker took the decision to name his new creation Cushiedoos (pronounced coo-she-doos), in honour of the woodland birds that mate for life when they find their perfect partner – much like gin and tonic.

Made with a blend of four botanicals – Heather, silver birch, yellow gentian and wormwood – Andrew also sources Scottish mountain water from ancient artesian springs, high in the Cairngorms National Park, to create the perfect balance for his product.

Currently the heather and silver birch are sourced locally while plans for Scottish grown yellow gentian and wormwood - as part of a special project with the Secret Herb Garden - could see them added to the Cushiedoos recipe making it 100% Scottish.

Andrew stated that although Cushiedoos has been hugely successful since its launch in April 2018 – with listings with Drinkmonger, Turnberry, Balgove Larder, The Sheraton One Square and 56 North – the recipe took a little time to perfect.

He said: “It took some time to get the balance right and initial trials were poor, but with a taste panel to review and provide feedback I eventually landed on a fantastic blend that does not overpower, and better complements spirit drinks such as gin, letting the distillers’ good work shine through the drink. The lack of quinine and lower levels of citric acid mean it has an extraordinary smoothness and clean aftertaste.”

The Drink Better founder stated that the recipe also has some added benefits.

“Because Cushiedoos is made using less citric acid than other tonics, it needs less sugar – British beet sugar – meaning it has 24 per cent less sugar than the top-selling premium tonic water.”

What makes Aldi’s new Scottish gin so special?

GOOD things come to those who wait – or so the old saying goes.

For Hamish Martin, that adage was certainly true.

He took over a derelict site just south of Edinburgh in August 2012 and spent nearly four years turning it into the Secret Herb Garden, complete with nursery and café.

Three years ago, he opened the Old Curiosity Distillery, using some of the herbs he grows in the garden for the botanicals in his gins.

The distillery hit the headlines with its colour-changing gins, but it was the freshness of Martin’s ingredients and the fact that the juniper flavour was still allowed to shine that really caught my attention.

That’s why it was such a treat to join Martin for an online tour of the garden and distillery as he explained the story behind his latest creation: Eidyn, a gin he’s made exclusively for supermarket chain Aldi.

Christie Clinton, the grocer’s spirits buyer in Scotland, had been speaking to Martin for the past two years about the possibility of working together on a gin.

Old Curiosity’s lemon verbena gin featured in the chain’s gin festival last year – and then last autumn Martin won the tender to create a premium Scottish gin for the retailer.

Eidyn uses a base of four botanicals – juniper, coriander seeds, angelica root and winter savoury – plus two not-so-secret ingredients to beef-up its citrus characteristics: lemon balm and lemon thyme.

After leading journalists on a virtual wander around the herb garden, Martin explained that the “best things are done simply” – rather than pack the new gin with 28 botanicals, he wanted to concentrate on six with real character, likening the idea to a chef using simple, high-quality ingredients in a dish and letting them shine.

Choosing lemon thyme as one of the star ingredients meant Martin spent the spring planting more of the herb in the garden, but the effort definitely paid off.

Eidyn has a really warm nose, full of orange, lemon and cloves, with some lighter floral notes alongside the typical spirit aroma.

The palate is quite delicate and subtle, with lime joining the lemon and orange flavours, plus more warming clove and sweeter spearmint notes, leading into marmalade on the finish.

For me, Eidyn joins that short list of Scottish gins that I’d happily sit and sip neat.

But, if you’re going to add tonic, then Daniel Cunningham – the distillery’s head of on-trade – recommends using a slimline version so that there’s no sugar to mask the citrus flavours in the gin wise words.

Cunningham has also come up with a “South Eidyn Fizz” cocktail, which mixes 50ml of the gin with 25ml of fresh lemon juice, 12.5ml of elderflower cordial, club soda, and eight mint leaves.

At £19.99, Eidyn is an absolute bargain, especially because it comes in the full 700ml bottle and not the 500ml measure that’s becoming more popular with distillers.

It easily holds its own against similar small-batch gins, which tend to appear on shelves around the £28 mark.

And soon, visitors will be able to see where the gin is made and many of its botanicals are grown, with tours of the distillery and garden resuming on Saturday.

Read more of Peter’s gin, whisky and wine reviews on his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain .


  1. Mamdouh

    hmm, you can create a small collection

  2. Kurt

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  4. Theyn

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  5. Duron

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  6. Chester

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  7. Telegonus

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  8. Vudomi

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